Don Charlton was born in 1978 in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He is a tech entrepreneur, a writer, and a motivational speaker. Don is the founder of Resumator, America’s fastest-growing company offering recruitment and application tracking solutions. He is presently the founder/CEO of Quicki/Kommute, a business platform where people communicate through video.
Early life and schooling
Don grew up on government assistance and went through a hard life in a very low-income family. Their poor state made it difficult for him to get a dignified livelihood while growing up. Getting proper meals, clothes, and shelter was hard for him. Don’s mother was mentally ill, and finding food for them daily was never easy. His childhood poverty pushed him to work hard and always do his best. It nurtured him to put a lot of effort into his life to make a difference in their family. He loved drawing and was always the best in art and crafts, even though he couldn’t afford paper, and resorted to using cereal boxes to draw.
Don lived most of his entire early life in Masontown, PA, while attending Albert Gallatin High school. He got proper career path direction from his guidance and counselling teacher, who introduced him to graphic design and told him it pays well than normal drawing. The poor state of his family pushed him to create his path early in life and better it for the sake of his family.
He moved to Rochester, New York, where he started working at Mcdonalds’ to help his struggling family. He later enrolled at the Rochester Institute of Technology, earning a degree in Graphic Design in 1999.
“I remember the day when I knew that I wanted to control my own destiny…I was really, really hungry. I wanted a Little Debbie snack cake, which I think they’re still $0.25… And I remember having $0.15.I remember digging through my mom’s purse, looking underneath the refrigerator… looking in the couch. And I could not find a stupid dime. One dime. And I remember it was the summertime, and I was walking outside. And I was hungry, I was tired. And I remember leaning back and lookin’ up at the sun. And realizing that here I was… ten years old… I just wanted a dime. That dime might as well have been 1,000 miles away from me because I could not manifest a dime in my life. Right then and there I saw the importance of taking charge of your own life.”
Another challenge that came was his race. Don had gone through this and knew what it was and how to tackle it. His race motivated him to keep pushing and deliver the best, and he later became a founder. He had more pressure to do the best in his trade and be a mentor to the future generation. He grew up in a neighbourhood where black people were seen as criminals and would not be accepted in stores. His family faced discrimination from their neighbours, who treated them badly. These treatments made him aware of race in his life, and he knew he just had to do his best.
After graduation, Don was absorbed in a growing design firm where he sharpened his skills on the job. He was forced to be flexible and had to learn website design to secure his job. Don pushed himself hard and was elevated to handle serious company business, like presenting to big multinational companies. He had to learn to be a professional, build confidence and be proactive in business.
“So I worked at a great design firm called Agnew Moyer Smith, and there are two great guys there. Reed Agnew and Don Moyer did shape the person I am today. They brought me in and they said, ‘There’s this whole new thing that we think there’s a lot of business, it’s the web. If you want a job here you’ll have to design websites.”
Don’s First Company
Don began to think of starting his venture even though he performed well in his web designer role. His confidence in presenting to the multinational company’s senior personnel motivated and boosted his morale as a good businessman. With the knowledge and experience, he had gathered for ten years, got challenged to start his own company. Don failed in his first attempt when he started his own content management company. He never gave up and was very determined to give it another shot.
Don’s desire to own a company pushed him hard. He took lessons from his failed first venture and was ready to avoid mistakes. Don thought about the hiring process and how it is hectic for many people, having had an experience in his first job hiring web designers. He did his research well to avoid some mistakes that made his first attempt fail.
He had to be tactical this time and become more techs aware when building this new venture. He listened to many people who had been in the industry early enough and what they did to succeed in building their companies. He knew he had to put his best foot forward to succeed. Don started the process of building Resumator, now known as JazzHr to help businesses hire professionals without stress. The kind of experience he went through when he was a web designer and had to hire other designers for the company pushed him to find solutions in the HR department.
He successfully founded Resumator in 2009, an application that helps companies take off the pressure of hiring. Resumator currently helps over 7,000 SMBs and recruits thousands of people.
The software helps companies hire the right talent fast without any hassle. The system is streamlined and helps in tracking the candidate-employee journey. Resumator has been crucial in HR, helping over 300k companies hire more than 75 million professionals.
“The Resumator was the first widely-adopted startup recruiting solution in Silicon Valley, with a customer list that, over time, has included many big brand tech startups at their launch/early/relaunch stage, such as Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, Tumblr, Uber, HubSpot, Warby Parker, Barack Obama for America and more.”
Don went further in making tech innovation that is helpful to business. He thought of how efficiently business people can communicate through video calls and introduced a messaging platform called Kommute. This platform helps in making communication face-to-face even when people are working remotely. It enables people to share voice messages and screens so that their faces can be seen. Don made this software to help workers efficiently communicate while expressing themselves. It combines text, media-boosting video, and voice communication.
“The magic is we all know how to record a video on our phone, whatever, but try to get it up on the Internet so you can share it with anybody, especially if you don’t have their phone number. So the magic of ours is you record a video you can add text to it and you can even integrate things like your calendar if you’re maybe you’re in sales and you want someone to schedule a meeting.”
Leadership Roles & Awards
Don is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Quicki. Quicki is a business video messaging application. He founded Resumator, now known as JazzHR, in 2009, which became a leader in SaaS recruiting technology, helping over 7000 recruits.
He was appointed the director of interactive at Wall-to-Wall studios in 2004, where he served up to 2009. He worked as an interactive Designer at ThoughtForm Design from 1999-2004.
- Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition New York Times 2012
- 2016 Brandon Hall Group Gold award for JazzHr for “Best Advance in Talent Acquisition Technology for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses,”
- Small and Medium Business Service of the Year. Awarded to JazzHr for the 2016 Best in Biz Gold award.
- JazzHR won the Forbes Advisor best recruiting Software of 2022
- Leader in G2’s Summer Report
- Top Rated Award 2022 from TrustRadius
- Listed in the 25 Most Influential African-Americans in Technology – Insider
- 100 Brilliant Companies – Entrepreneur magazine
“These awards are significant as they highlight our continued commitment to providing SMBs with the tools they need to exceed their recruiting goals.”
Don Charlton is among the few black founders with thriving businesses in America. His story depicts sheer commitment, resilience, and passion. It is a story that shows anyone can make it in business despite their background or race. He beat all odds to be a force in the technology industry.
Don Charlton is part of our Black Founders50 Series. Download the complete 2023 BBVA Founders50 list here.